A man accused in a Janesville shooting death last May is no longer charged with murder.
As part of a plea agreement announced in Rock County Court on Thursday, Barquis D. McKnight pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon.
McKnight, 33, of Beloit, shot Eddie L. Jones, 28, of Markham, Illinois, on the night of May 27 or early morning May 28 when the two were visiting a residence at 116 S. Franklin St.
McKnight had been facing a charge of first-degree intentional homicide, which carries a life sentence, and a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon.
McKnight also pleaded guilty Thursday to the firearm-possession charge. The combined maximum penalty for the two charges is 20 years in the prison system, which includes any release on extended supervision.
As part of the agreement, attorneys on both sides are free to argue the length of sentence.
The change of charges means the shooting death is no longer Janesville’s first murder case in more than three years. That distinction now belongs to the stabbing death of Christine Scaccia-Lubeck in early December.
Julian D. Collazo, 21, of Janesville is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in that case.
McKnight was represented by a new attorney in court Thursday, Robert Jambois.
McKnight’s previous attorney, Michael Murphy, appeared to have been preparing a case for self-defense.
Murphy said in September that the evidence suggested a struggle for a gun, not an intentional shooting of one person by another.
After McKnight’s guilty pleas Thursday, Judge James Daley found him guilty and ordered a presentence investigation be completed in a shorter-than-usual time because of Daley’s impending retirement.
Sentencing is set for March 2, Daley’s last day on the bench.